Evacuation Day

This was tough to title. I went through several choices before settling on one that I am not satisfied with. Happy Evacuation day? No, happy is a horrible adjective to describe the memory of this day. We Didn’t Die Day? I mean, it is accurate but not at all uplifting. Harvey Day? Eh even reading the name elicits a physical response. So Evacuation Day it is- at least until I can honestly title it- I am over it day.

Trauma intrigues me. Even when you think an event is processed and emotionally you are healing, your body demands to acknowledge it. I woke up today- no alarm- at the time my concerned friends had started calling and texting. My closest friends are thousands of miles away and in another time zone; their news channels were already reporting what I was about to discover. I went outside to take a picture of the water line, which before I went to sleep that evening was safely behind the trees and yards away from the house. I had been sending my closest friends picture updates to ease their worries. When I went outside the water was not where I had left it. It was rising around my house on three sides, and so quickly you could see it growing, higher and higher, and with such speed there was actually a current as it angrily clawed towards my home.

I want to sound courageous here so usually tell myself I was so curious that I wanted to just watch the water for awhile. Truth is after surviving so many traumas that whole Fight or Flight instinct just gives up. It is like even my brain realized that flight does not “save” me from the trauma so instead it makes me play Possum. So the part of my brain in charge of my physical survival literally thought that if I played dead- the Bayou water would just turn around and go away. I knew intellectually that this plan was not going to work but still could not force my limbs to move. We call it fight or freeze in psychology because saying your brain cannot fathom any more trauma is not at all encouraging. A well timed call from my neighbor broke me out of my trance- I do not even remember what words she used, but the fear was palpable. As I turned back towards the house the Emergency Guy ( I forget his fancy title now) pulled all the way up to the door and gave us the directive he had tried to prepare us for, “It is time to go.”

The actual evacuation was more scary then the rising water. Two humans and 3 scared dogs crammed in a Ford Mustang convertible, riding to Lumberton on a donut because we were too distracted to get a new tire earlier in the week and a second tire with a leak that had gone from slow to fast mimicking the current of the once kind Bayou. We only had to travel 16 miles to safety but water was already coming up over the highways and the sounds of the flash flood alerts pierced the air every few minutes. In between those the tornado warnings reminded us that arriving safely to our destination was not likely. I thought about all the times I had asked God to allow my death to be dramatic. This was not what I had in mind, but I had never been very specific, and now was not time to clarify.

We did, by the Grace of God, arrive safely to the home of the family who had so generously took us in; 5 humans, 4 cats, 3 dogs, and 6 foster dogs. I sat in the car as long as I could trying with all my might to wish this out of reality. It took the approach of my 3 children to coax me out of the car, and even more humans to convince our youngest pup to come out of her hiding place in the space between the back seat and where the convertible roof hides when the top is down. I contemplated crawling back there with her and imagined us curled up together waiting to wake up from a very ugly dream.

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